Broken systems breaking people

Broken systems breaking people - "Violence against women and HIV are inextricably linked, and for women of the populations most vulnerable to and affected by HIV this link is particularly strong. Research on violence experienced by women who use drugs in Malaysia provides insights into the nature of this relationship.

A qualitative study conducted among 38 women who use drugs in five states in Malaysia found that their lives were marked with pain, difficulty, violence and poverty. Unstable and fluid family environments were common, with frequent parental abuse in childhood, often followed by intimate partner violence in adulthood.

Early marriage (below the age of 20) was also common, which increases a young woman’s vulnerability because of differences in power in the relationship. Lacking a sense of equal power within the marriage can make it more difficult to negotiate condom use or to request a clean needle when he injects her, thereby increasing her risk of becoming infected by HIV. El-Bassel et al. 2010 note that women are often ‘second on the needle’, resulting in increased risk of HIV transmission. In addition to this, people who use drugs are often subject to repeated imprisonemt for drug use, keeping them away from healthcare services." (Photo: Foreign and Commonwealth Office/flickr)

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